In the comments from my last post, Atticus Finch is my hero, one reader, Brian, was prompted to ask who was HIS Atticus and was it a literary figure or someone real. Such a great question, and it got me to thinking about the word hero and what it truly means. Clearly, I think Atticus is my role model. But I realize now that I have other heroes. Here are a few people who inspire me to challenge myself to be the best that I can be.
Dan Gottlieb is a psychiatrist from the Philadelphia area. I first discovered him years ago as a teen when I would read his weekly column about mental health in The Philadelphia Inquirer. He was one of the first people I encountered that made me begin to think of this thing called MENTAL HEALTH. Decades later, I continue to be inspired by him through his lectures, books about his grandson Sam, and his “Voices in the Family” radio show on NPR. One of the things I love best about him is that he has been confined to a wheelchair for 33 years, yet he refuses to be a victim. An amazing person, Gottlieb has helped thousands of people feel better about who they are and where they’ve been.
A teacher at Westtown Friends School in West Chester, PA, Kwesi Koomson is originally from Ghana. Kwesi is responsible for educating hundreds of students in his homeland. Wanting to give back for all the good fortune he had, Kwesi began a program that would help those students in his village pass the high school entrance exam, which was historically under 50%. In 2004, he returned to his home village with the intent of starting a small school. What started as 32 students in a church has ballooned into a complete K-12 program known as the Heritage Academy. In 2012, the Heritage Academy enrollment stands at over 1,100–and their high school exam pass rate: 100%.
Jeanette Walls wrote an amazing memoir: The Glass Castle. Her story is so raw and compelling, it definitely brings to mind the adage: “Truth is stranger than fiction.” What I love most about her story is the courage it took her to reveal all the sordid details of her family’s past, at the risk of losing her status in society. What she discovered along the way was that writing the truth unleashed all of the anger, guilt, and shame she had been harboring her whole adult life. A true heroine.
Now it’s your turn. Who is one of your heroes? Please post someone, even if you can’t fully explain why! We need to be reminded of our heroes more.